03 January, 2012

What I Watched Last Month…

Actually, I'm SOOO far behind on these that it's not what I watched 'last' month as such. They're all written and I'm going to catch up with them over the next little while. Enjoy…

April 2011

(at the movies)
I had such high hopes for this that it's not surprising I wasn't blown away. That's not to say it's a bad film — far from it. It's just that I knew it had so much going for it, and when it was a really good action superhero flick, it wasn't quite enough for me. Really though, that's just me being difficult to please. I'm sure that on a second big-screen viewing I'll simply relax and enjoy it so much more.
I did find the movie a little clumsy. I felt the overall tone was a little rushed and undercooked. It had a real sense of 'this is only the beginning', which is fine, but lost some of the epic I was hoping for because of it I think. The pre-fab town that was the Earthly setting for most of the film, was far too obviously built just to be destroyed — I could tell that even in the trailers. I found the romantic subplot between Thor and Jane far too simplistic and presented as "everyone knows these two will get together, so let's just skip any real relationship development and go straight to the big juicy kiss at the end". Very very lazy, and a little insulting to the audience. Loki was another character that I thought kind of missed the mark. I wished for a truly malevolent and conniving half brother, but instead got someone who turned out to be mostly misguided, seeking his father's approval. It seems that maybe this was supposed to be a precursor to his truly evil downfall in The Avengers movie.
The acting was all good. Hemsworth is Mjolnir-worthy. Portman is convincing as smitten/lusting/crushing Jane. Loki, Odin, etc., all well cast. I would have rathered a much fatter (yes: fatter, not just larger) Volstagg.
My favourite part? The battle with The Destroyer. I could have had twice as much of that. The Destroyer looked absolutely awesome, but was polished off far too quickly, probably for budgetary reasons is my guess. Instead of having a protracted exciting knock-down-drag-out fight, the whole thing was wrapped up kind of boringly in a tornado.
Overall, a very good addition to Marvel's movie universe.

Summer Heights High. (on DVD)
I'm not a big fan of 'cringe comedy', of which this is a perfect example, but my wife was keen to watch the whole thing through, so I thought I'd have a look as well.
I'm not really sure that Chris Lilley is the genius everyone thinks he is. I think he's a really great observer, and that he's able to distill his observations down to their most powerful stereotypes. I think he's very good at presenting what a lot of us have encountered and which we recognise and then laugh uncomfortably at, but I don't think he's giving us any great revelations or insights in what he's presenting to us.
That being said, I was really surprised by the distinct shift in tone that happened in the second last and last episodes for the Jonah character. Once again, it wasn't any amazing skill in doing so, and really it was probably the natural and obvious path for his story arc, but it was surprising at the time, and perhaps even a little brave, rather than going for what could be more cheap laughs considering the tone of the rest of the series. What this really did for me though was throw light on the fact that the other two main characters really had no development whatsoever over the course of the eight episodes.
I think Lilley did a good job portraying these caricatures, but to a great extent they fell into being stereotypes, which he only gets away with by saying it was satire and social commentary. As far as I could see, such commentary was extremely thin on the ground if it was present at all.
I don't think he's a terribly good actor either. He's not even a very good impersonator really, with the same tics and mannerisms appearing across all the acting for all the characters. These characters are painted in very broad strokes too with little in the way of nuance.

Big Fish. (on DVD)
I feel like describing this film as "little", but really, it's not terribly little at all. In fact it's actually quite sweeping, taking place over something like 60 years and quite a wide ranging set of locations. I guess what's making me think this way is that it's really a very human film, and quite quaint and touching in its storytelling and depiction of characters and relationships. You wouldn't necessarily pick this as a Tim Burton film, regardless of mainstays like Helena Bonham Carter and composer Danny Elfman. It's much lighter and more colourful than what I've come to expect from Burton, and although it's obviously fanciful, it's not a fantasy in the way most of his films are. There is a humanity and groundedness to this much more than usual for him, and a wonderful romantic feel.
This is possibly my favourite Tim Burton film, and it might be overlooked by a lot of people because it doesn't seem like typical Burton but it's really well worth the time. Lovely movie.

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